The European Commission has approved the take-over of Arianespace by Airbus-Safran Launchers (ASL) and the new ownership is structured with conditions designed to minimise any prospects of anti-competitive behaviour – although who might want to mount a billion-Euro attempt to rival Arianespace is difficult to imagine.
ASL now has to pay €150 million ($166m) to French national space agency CNES for its 35 percent stake in the ‘old’ Arianespace business. CNES will then be able to ‘spend’ the incoming cash on its own space programmes.
The commission determined that ASL will have plenty of competition from outside Europe, not least from SpaceX and the International Launch Services operation of the Russian Proton rocket system.
One of the requirements is that a ‘Chinese wall’ must now be put in place between Airbus itself and the Arianespace business. The commission’s worry was that Airbus’ satellite construction division might have inside knowledge gained from its relationships with SpaceX and Proton.